Donald Trump has said he hopes the US is “starting to see light at the end of the tunnel” while New York, the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, reported a potential "plateau" of cases, as a grim streak of hundreds of deaths appears to have levelled rather than continue to spike.
On Monday, the number of Covid-19-related deaths in the US eclipsed 10,500, including the nation's youngest victim, a one-day-old newborn in Louisiana.
The president optimistic comments came in stark contrast to those of US surgeon general Jerome Adams, who warned Americans to brace for levels of tragedy similar to the September 11 attacks and the bombing of Pearl Harbour in the week ahead, as states continue mitigation efforts and prepare for several more weeks of quarantine and stay-at-home measures.
In a press conference attacking his predecessor Barack Obama, Democrats, reporters and a US Navy captain who alerted officials to a potential coronavirus outbreak on his ship before he was fired for doing so, the president dismissed an inspector general report that outlined the shortages of critically needed medical supplies in US hospitals.
The president also said he has considered "getting involved" with Captain Brett Crozier's case, and said that the captain's emailed letter "shows weakness."
The president said: "We don't want to have letter-writing campaigns where the fake news finds a letter [and] gets a leak. We don't want that."
Mr Trump continued to push for a controversial malaria drug that officials in his own administration have warned is not clinically proven to safely combat the virus. Despite warnings from Dr Anthony Fauci and the federal Food and Drug Administration, the president and his chief trade adviser Peter Navarro have insisted on administering the drug.
Mr Navarro has reportedly clashed with Dr Fauci about the drug's efficacy, though he told CNN he's qualified to measure the drug's effectiveness, despite not having a medical background.
On Monday, Dr Fauci was hesitant to say that mitigation efforts are showing signs of working across the US, but early results in hard-hit areas like New York are starting to show decreasing numbers of hospitalisations requiring ventilator support. He said: "You never want to think about declaring victory prematurely."
He said that health officials may be "overshooting" the models using initial data that showed as many as 200,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, a Democratic primary election in Wisconsin scheduled for 7 April cannot be postponed despite pleas from lawmakers and a last-minute push from the state's governor, which was overruled by the state's Supreme Court. The decision sends the election into chaos, with a drastic shortage of poll workers and an electorate that has been ordered to stay home under threat of the virus.
Ballots include thousands of local races in addition to a crucial race between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders for the party's nomination to face the president in November.
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The US is bracing for a peak in the coronavirus outbreak this week, as cases have topped 330,000 and the death toll has risen to 9,600.
Donald Trump said he was hopeful for "light at the end of the tunnel", but surgeon general Jerome Adams warned the coming days will be the "hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives".
Americans told to prepare for 'hardest and saddest week'
The surgeon general has warned Americans to prepare for "our hardest and saddest week" as the US braces for a spike in coronavirus-related deaths.
Jerome Adams told Fox News: "This is going to be our Pearl Harbour moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localised - it's going to be happening all over the country."
The US is entering a crucial two-week period to combat the virus, with nearly comprehensive statewide stay-at-home orders across the US and surges in hospitalisations and patients requiring ventilator support following Covid-19 infection.
States without stay-at-home orders urged to consider one week
The US surgeon general told governors who have not issued month-long stay-at-home orders to at least consider one for the coming week.
Eight states have yet to order residents to stay home: Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
Georgia, which has recorded 6,600 cases and more than 200 deaths, ordered residents to stay home but then allowed some beaches to reopen.
Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson defended his refusal to order state-wide restrictions, saying the situation was being watched closely and that his more "targeted approach" was still slowing the spread of the virus.
Trump stops expert from answering question on untested Covid-19 treatment
In another heated press briefing at the White House, Donald Trump prevented his top coronavirus adviser from answering a question on the efficacy of an unproven anti-malarial drug that the president has repeatedly promoted as a possible treatment for Covid-19.
Although hydroxychloroquine has not been medically cleared to treat those infected with coronavirus, the president doubled down in his support for the drug, saying he was not willing to wait a year for the results of testing. “Take it. What do you have to lose?” he told Americans.
But Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top doctor on infectious diseases and a key member of the White House task force, insisted there is nothing to suggest the medicine has any genuine benefit against coronavirus.
California county orders residents to wear face coverings
Riverside county in California has made it mandatory for residents to wear face masks when outdoors.
Anyone who leaves their house must cover their face as the number of coronavirus case and deaths continue to rise across California, Fox 26 News reports.
The county has also brought in restrictions banning gatherings except for family members living in the same home.
Most churches have closed their doors and moved their services online, however one parish near Sacramento is believed to be at the centre of an outbreak involving 70 infected people, according to CNN.
US denies diverting face masks headed for Germany
The US has denied any knowledge of a shipment of face masks bound for Germany after officials in Berlin accused the country of diverting it from an airport in Bangkok.
Berlin Secretary of Interior Andreas Geisel claimed an order of 200,000 masks bound for Germany had been "confiscated" in Bangkok and diverted to the US in an "act of modern piracy".
However Jillian Bonnardeaux, spokeswoman for the US embassy in Bangkok, told Reuters: "The United States government did not take any action to divert any 3M supplies that were destined to Germany nor did we have any knowledge of such a shipment.
"We remain concerned about pervasive attempts to divide international efforts through unsourced, unattributed disinformation campaigns."
A spokeswoman for 3M told Reuters the company had no evidence that its products had been seized.
‘Iran will never ask US for help fighting coronavirus’
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman has said the country will never ask the US for help in fighting the new coronavirus.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected offers from Washington for humanitarian assistance.
It is so far the most affected Middle Eastern country, with more than 58,000 people infected with Covid-19 and over 3,600 deaths.
Iranian authorities claim US sanctions have hampered their efforts to curb the outbreak, urging other countries and the United Nations to call on the US to lift them.
Taliban accuses US of violating peace deal
The Taliban has claimed the US is violating their peace deal in Afghanistan and warned of more violence if it continues.
The militant group accused Washington of drone attacks on civilians and the Afghan government of delaying the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners promised as part of the Doha peace agreement.
The Taliban said they had restricted attacks against Afghan security forces to rural outposts, had not attacked international forces and had not attacked Afghan forces in cities or military installations.
But they warned of more violence if the US and the Afghan government continue the alleged violations.
US military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett denied the Taliban allegations, saying the US forces in Afghanistan have "upheld and continues to uphold the military terms of the US-TB [Taliban] agreement; any assertion otherwise is baseless."
This video from 2005 of George Bush warning the US must act before a pandemic hits has re-emerged.
Tiger tests positive for Covid-19 at New York zoo
A four-year-old tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for coronavirus, likely the first case involving an animal in the US, Alex Woodward reports.
Nadia and six other big cats were symptomatic with a dry cough and were believed to have been infected by an asymptomatic member of the zoo staff.
The cat was tested "out of an abundance" of caution and the animals are reportedly doing well under veterinary care.
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